A seemingly impossible blend of grunt and economy
No faults (would expect nothing less at this early stage)
First off, what an engine. It's actually the 3.0 turbodiesel from the 530d, but with twin sequential turbochargers (one small for low speed response and one large for top end shove). The result is 272 bhp and a staggering 413 lb/ft of torque with something daft like 390 of it available from just 1500 RPM. Unfortunately it is linked to an auto-box (BMW don't currently have a manual capable of handling the torque), but it's the latest all singing, all dancing 6 speed unit and works superbly. Oh, and it pulls hard right through to 5,000 RPM too which is in my experience, unique for a diesel.
On the road it's incredible. 0-60 in under 6 seconds, and I'm averaging 34 mpg so far. I cannot think of another comparable car with this kind of grunt that can get within 10 mpg of that. Doing 1,000 miles a week, these savings will add up. More importantly though it is responsive, has seemingly endless shove on tap when you ask for it, and it sounds wonderful. Just like a straight six petrol BMW to be quite honest. With BMW's low depreciation, particularly on the 6 cylinder diesels, I suspect this will be a very cheap car to own, despite the purchase price which quite frankly still has me quivering when the finance payment comes out every month.
The car handles tidily, although the steering lacks feel and the brakes feel a tad over-servoed. That said, this is not a back road blaster, but a high speed motorway cruiser and at that it excels. Noise levels are near silent, and in 6th at 70 mph, it's showing around 2,200 RPM on the rev counter. Right on peak torque incidentally, meaning that it will howl past 100 mph with just a flex of the ankle. 70-100 mph it is the quickest car I have ever driven, and that includes an E36 M3 and a VW Golf Rallye
Superb as the car is, there are things I don't like about it. Apart from the steering and brake feel mentioned earlier, I still have reservations about the styling of the new BMW models for instance and the bulbous new 5 somehow lacks the elegance of the previous model. I also dislike the I-Drive system. It's much better than the one fitted to the 7 series I borrowed a year or two ago, and I have become used to it, but it strikes me as gimmicky and unnecessary. Not normally qualities you would associate with BMW.
To say I am happy with the car is an understatement.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th January, 2005